Trial separation

Red Dwarf's Grant and Naylor are said to have split up. But a new series is in the pipeline. Maxton Walker meets a tense Doug Naylor

smegging wonderful. First, my washing machine packs up. Ditto with my tape recorder minutes before the interview is due to start. There I am, sitting in a central London production company wearing my most smeggy clothes, panicking over a sick Dictaphone. And at that moment, who should walk in but the very object of my teenage adulation, Clare Grogan. A moment like this and I look like something the cat dragged in.

Things can only improve. Doug Naylor is unlikely to mind my dishevelled appearance. He has, after all, made a living by writing about curry stains and cruddy boxer shorts.

Naylor, along with Rob Grant, is revered for Red Dwarf (although we should perhaps consider this as merely atonement for earlier crimes. We are, you may recall, dealing with the men who wrote Spitting Image's "The Chicken Song"). And here he is waiting to talk about the imminent production of his solo Red Dwarf novel, Last Human. But first, let's recap.

August 1984. Two young Spitting Image writers gave birth to an idea for a sitcom. It is set aboard a mining vessel stranded in deep space. Aboard are the last human, a creature descended from a cat and a hologram. It is clearly a non-starter but they pitch it to the BBC's light entertainment department, anyway. No dice. They try BBC North West, which is in bullish mood following the success of The Young Ones and Filthy Rich and Catflap. Red Dwarf has the requisite number of knob gags and the first series goes ahead. As predicted, it is not particularly funny.

Autumn 1993: Red Dwarf VI airs. It is considered one of the best sitcoms the BBC has produced in years. At this point Rob Grant expresses a desire to produce a solo Red Dwarf novel, and the two writers move to separate projects.

Two years later, and rumours of a Lennon / McCartney style split between the two have been circulating. Naylor tenses when I ask him about his relationship with Grant but confesses that their partnership on Red Dwarf may be over: "Rob doesn't want to write any more television episodes. At least that's my understanding." However a new series starring Craig Charles is scheduled for next year, and Naylor will go ahead with or without Grant. "If Rob still didn't become involved, then some of the scripts for the next episode would have to be commissioned from other writers."

There is the question of whether Red Dwarf can continue without half of its creative force. From the evidence of Last Human, however, Naylor is easily able to carry the flame. How did he find it working alone on Red Dwarf material?

"It was weird, certainly at first. Before, it has always been the two of us. Rob would work the computer and I would pace around and make the coffee. The first time I had to work alone it was terrible. But there are advantages too. You can write whenever you like, even in the middle of the night if you have an idea, although it's always good to have somebody to bounce ideas off."

Dwarfies who have been weaned solely on the television series may find the book something of a departure. There are far fewer straight laughs, although some of the comic riffs are sublime (such as when our heroes discover a planet on which the currency is human sperm). But, says Naylor, this different tack is deliberate. "I wanted to write something darker, and I knew that I'd have to give up some of the comedy. With scripts, you have to write three laughs a page. In a novel, you don't need that kind of regime."

In one of those spooky cases of sci-fi-cum-satire imitating life, the novel opens with Lister (played in the series by Craig Charles) on trial for something he did not do. "It was a very very freaky coincidence," admits Naylor. "That part of the novel was written before any of the charges were brought. It was a terrible time for all of us. For him to be plucked out of a middle-class existence and stuck in Wandsworth prison was absolutely unbelievable."

Whatever the future holds for the crew of Red Dwarf, we can at least be assured that it will be more bizarre than we could possibly imagine.

`Last Human' is released on 27 April, £15. Doug Naylor will be signing copies at W H Smith, Holborn, 3 May; Forbidden Planet, W1, Books Etc, Charing Cross Rd, 13 May

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back